Still shying away from impending maturity
Blink 182 - Live At Manchester Arena

You might have thought that Tom, Mark and Travis's days of wanting to sing about having sex with a dog, your mum, a pirate or fellating their own Granddad should be over, but by the standards of their latest tour they are still shying away from impending maturity.

The band played Manchester M.E.N Arena to an audience of all ages, from brand spanking new preteen fans to the mid-twenty-year-olds, who squeezed into the Dickie shorts and took their Vans shoes out of retirement.

Before the trio could entertain, All American Rejects had the challenge of warming up the thousands. Lead singer Tyson fell about the stage in pin striped trousers as the room waited for ‘Swing, Swing’, which they plonked slap bang in the middle of their set, seeming to dispute that this was the song that was responsible for their notoriety.

Blink 182 entered stage right followed by a small little child in a tutu, who then hid behind the speaker. Yes, the boys whose song inspirations centred on girls, parties, curse words and once even incest, are now daddies. Would the language be muted? Would Mark still tease Tom about romancing numerous family members? The answer was, of course, yes.

"I live in England, fuck yeah, Earl Gray." Bassist Mark Hoppus seemed to embrace us assuming we were all tea drinkers. The band treated the arena to general low brow banter and repeated talk about “Manchestire”.

Tom DeLonge, now thirty-six, wore a trademark baseball cap. Whether it was to add to the youthful playful image or hide the truth was unclear. The band looked very different to the wide eyed pranksters who mocked pop stars back in the ‘90s.

Hoppus was the main protagonist of this event, still the joker he teased the slightly more serious looking Tom DeLonge all night and used the entirety of the stage. They managed to recapture theirs and the audience’s youth playing a cocktail of songs from their most current work and their back catalogue. This was very much a greatest hits tour.

The band’s encores were the highlights of the night. First of all a pop-up performance in the middle of the arena where they played an acoustic set of
‘Reckless Abandon’ which they claimed not to have played together live for fifteen years. Fans gathered round DeLonge and Hoppus with their phones above their heads recording every second. After a tasty treat for the diehards, then came Travis’s time to shine. The quiet drummer played solo to ‘Can a Drummer Get Some’ for what seemed like ten minutes. He received the biggest applause of the night, proving that they might be known for their tom foolery, but Travis’s talent wasn’t going unnoticed.

The gig ended with a ticker tape explosion until Mark, unsatisfied with an extravagant ending, playfully strummed his bass proclaiming this was the real ending. Although longer in the tooth than their Urethra Chronicle days, the band really brought their adolescent Mark, Tom and Travis show to Manchester.

Words by Cat Marr
Photo by Danny Payne

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